Bill Reforming Mental Health In Florida's Criminal Justice System Gaining Traction

Dec 2, 2015

Mark Mahon, chief judge of the 4th judicial circuit, speaking before lawmakers Wednesday.
Credit Florida Channel

A plan to revamp mental health care in Florida’s criminal justice system passed its first House panel Wednesday.

While some lawmakers have expressed concern about the fiscal impact such a bill could have on Florida as a whole, there’s a general consensus the measure is needed. Mark Mahon, chief judge of the 4th judicial circuit, is among the supporters.

“In the long run, we think this is going to be fiscally responsible for the state, whether it’s county or state or whatever resources, but it’s also the humane and right thing to do to get these people who have serious mental health issues out of the worst place for treatment, which is a jail where they are not getting adequate, their needs met in terms of medicine, treatment, supervision, that type of thing, and get them into the proper facilities,” he said.

The measure creates a pilot in some Florida counties that could cost up to $4.5 million. It also includes statewide programs to help veterans and juvenile offenders who have mental illnesses.

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